New York City, July 30, 2014

★★★★★ Traffic sounds and cool air carried through the still-open windows. The sky was cloudless at first, with a thin white tinge to the blue, the sun benevolent and warm. Bicycles were everywhere, going the wrong way in the bike lanes. A group of men walked together wearing different-colored but otherwise similar trim shorts. Drumming rose from Verdi Square. A few midday clouds puffed up in the west. Nearly every seat on the plaza was taken for lunch; a row of day campers in blue t-shirts perched on the low wall just by the fountain. By afternoon, the bricks were strewn with water-balloon scraps and the whole space rattled with scooters. The clouds had advanced throughout the sky, and had enough gray mixed in their billows to generate little stretches of moodiness on the walk down Broadway. There was a chilled bottle of white wine by the corner of the playground, behind the stack of pizza boxes and the streamer-wrapped benches, a loosely bounded party. The birthday guests bounced sturdy jumbo balloons on rubber-band tethers and warred with Silly String till the pavement was a ’90s graphic backdrop. Other children wandered by in their underpants, drenched by the fountain. The two-year-old batted his balloon up in air the over and over again, following it all the way across the paved yard on the westbound breeze. He could see no reason to stop playing, long after he’d had his fill of cupcake frosting. By the time he finally allowed himself to be rolled home on his scooter, the apartment was awash in coral-colored light.